Reading Response #1

Read Anne Lamott's  Bird by Bird,  pages xi - 109. Identify a chapter or section that resonated with  you, and post a 500-word response below on what you read. Lamott asserts that telling the truth is the primary component of good writing - do you agree? How does she see writing as a therapeutic process? What does she mean by the "moral point of view?" Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.

23 thoughts on “Reading Response #1

  1. Kelsey

    I enjoyed Lamott’s truthful description of the writing process, and how she integrates humor and “real life” into her teachings about writing. The Shitty First Drafts chapter resonated with me because she identifies how difficult it can be to even start, and how to get your thoughts organized, and when you’re trying to start writing something, nothing seems to be organized or make any sense. I think this is great advice for beginners or people who don’t really write, because she says all you have to do is “want to be a writer” and the rest just sort of falls into place once you start. To me, starting is the biggest hurdle. Especially if you are trying to write a big piece, how do you even go about getting this big giant story down? She says that it doesn’t matter if everything sounds bad or out of order because when you go through it, you can find pieces that belong better in different places, or don’t belong at all, and fine tune the story you are actually telling. The Shitty First Draft, is supposed to be just that.
    I agree with Lamott that telling the truth is a primary component of good writing, nobody wants to feel as if they are getting duped or lied to. She talks about this especially with the characters in a story. She says the writer needs to get to know them first, because the reader will know if the writer is just trying to make the characters do something to fit into the story. You have to get to know the characters and let them take over and tell the story. This is still true even if the characters seem to be turning away or turning into something that the writer didn’t intend. The writer must still tell the truth, and will most likely end up with a better story anyways.
    Lamott uses writing as a therapeutic process to help deal with her dad’s death and the confusion of her childhood. She writes it all out and gets the ideas and feelings down and then processes through them as she revises and finds the real story. She goes into detail quite a bit when she describes writing one of her novels and how her editor didn’t see the story as good as she did, even after she had revised and thought she was telling the right story. She self -medicates and has to go through a bit of a downward spiral before she can hash it all out with her editor, and by doing so she is able to tell him the real story she is trying to get across and can then revise and find the parts of the story she is trying to write. The moral point of view is described as this, and finding a person’s own morals and correct way to tell the story according to them. Every person will have a different set of morals because we are all raised differently and inherit our idea of morality in different ways, be it either nature or nurture.

  2. Courtney Williamson

    She has a certain process that leads her to write, and I think that is what this therapy talk is about. Sometimes we do things that are therapeutic for us. For example, some people take long hot baths and listen to music, or go buy some new clothes to add to the unworn wardrobe. Its therapy, it is what keeps us sane, by doing things that make us relax and enjoy life at that single moment. She The thing that connected with me is in a couple of chapters that she talks about just talking about your childhood. She mentions that a couple times and it got me thinking she is right. When I start writing I put all my childhood experiences out there and just continue to write. Life experiences can help you write and it can go a long way, and plus it makes it less boring. The moral point of view was just her explaining to write stuff down after thinking about it for a while. Especially, whenever you get stuck and get writers block. Once you get into the story on what you’re writing about it will become easy to do. Be true to the story and be true to yourself, and that is what makes a great writer.

    1. Lilia Lundquist

      I agree that her writing is in a sense therapeutic. I feel like she is writing in a style that puts you at ease. Her language and structure reminded me of being read to in that it had a calming effect.

  3. Shana Waring

    I found most of the first 100 pages of Bird by Bird to be an interesting description of both reading and writing. One topic I had never thought much about being truthful from another person’s point of view is set design. Books can have a quite detailed landscape and /or props. The author details a novel where she had a major garden setting but didn’t have a single ounce of green thumb in her body. She spent a great deal of time researching and conducting interviews with a local greenhouse attendant. Lamott was able to develop such a strong set design she had convinced readers she was in the profession of gardening when not typing out a novel. The author needed to provide truth to the readers, otherwise she could have likely lost the group of green thumbs who felt the connection to her through the novel.
    As a writer some of the most difficult times in works come from trying to send the story in a direction predetermined. There may have been a focus in the original creation of the novel, but as development occurs the story can easily find a new focus, one which may not have been identified at all. The analogy of the polaroid was really unique. When snapping a polaroid picture, there is never a clear idea of what the image will look like in the end. Even though we point and shoot with an image in our peripheral view the end photo can take an entirely different focus from what has been captured in the frame.
    I agree with the statement about telling the truth in writing. Lamott expressed how quickly writing can become transparent and lost when the fictitious stories are taken too far. Instead use truth which can be altered to fit the storyline, characters, setting more effectively. Losing the trust of the reader is the same as losing the attention of the reader, a complete train derailment for a writer. This working hand in hand in leaving a work alone to allow for ideas and the real story to formulate. Instead of working and talking the story in an inorganic way, allow for the mind to relax.
    As for the idea of “moral point of view”, Lamott makes the argument to speak through writing for what you as a writer hold passion to. Characters can easily portray and discuss real world events or concepts. The writer has the opportunity to share their points of view in a positive outlet which has the potential to reach millions of readers. A good writer will take the vision of a discussion and formulate the point or argument in a way that allows the reader to feel like they have had the direct contact with the character. This provides a better opportunity for the message to be heard by the readers and also to sway the ideals of the reader. When feeling like they were incorporated into the text the reader begins to think more thoroughly of the issue/topic being addressed.

    1. Kelsey

      I liked the section on her explaining how she wrote about gardening too. It speaks to how writers need to be committed to being researchers too. Eventually, you will probably want to write about something that you haven’t experienced first hand, or that you don’t know much about. You have to do the proper research so that your readers are convinced of your characters.

    2. Natalee Fleming

      I think a lot of writers often forget about that aspect of writing that things can change. A lot of writers have this idea in their head of how their story is going to start, what’s gonna happen in the middle, and how it’s gonna end. But while they are writing things shift gears and the writer doesn’t accommodate for those changes that have been made they are still trying to write this children’s book when in reality the book has now turned into a young adult book.

  4. Courtney Kisner

    When I think back to the reading, something that stands out for me is the chapter about school lunches. This is such a universal experience (except maybe not for those that were homeschooled) and has the power to bring you back into a simple space. This space has potential. The writer can describe it based on his or her personal experience. For me, I can still remember the way that the lunch room smelled, and the anxiety that came along with it. The line where Lamott says, “it only looked like a bunch of kids eating lunch. It was really about opening our insides in front of everyone,” was powerful. The metaphor of the school lunch and its reflection of the internal worlds of each student was meaningful yet simple at the same time. Not only is this a great exercise, but there is so much emotion around school lunches. It is a daily experience that is frequently looked over yet has the potential to uncover some underlying meanings and feelings that may have been left back in childhood. I feel as though this exercise has the potential to grow into a short story, an anecdote, which would resonate truth.

    For Lamott it seems as though telling the truth means to find the essence of the character and telling their truth. She is saying that is essential to give the character their freedom and let them genuinely speak for themselves. It is also about telling the truth of a story, not verbatim, but in a way that the story lights up for the reader. Telling the truth could mean embellishments. For Lamott it seems as if the truth is subjective and that it is about being genuine to what comes to your mind when writing. I do agree, not with works of nonfiction necessarily, but with works of fiction. It is essential to tell the truth about the image that comes to your mind as you are writing. Lamott sees writing as a therapeutic process because it is a way to do some uncluttering. It is a way to speak the truth of your past, or of your present and get it off your chest. Writing even allows one to be emotional without doing any harm. It is speaking the truth, as if the paper is your therapist and your words are your conversations. I think that for Lamott the paper was her therapist. When Lamott discusses the “moral point of view,” she means the art of caring. You should believe in the autonomy of each character. For Lamott morality and truth go hand in hand. Putting oneself at the center of your piece, Lamott says, is imperative to developing something truthful. The reader should feel as though the piece was cared about and that there was an interwoven sense of morality throughout. Whether your morality spills out into your characters or the plot, it is important to develop a piece that you stand behind, to some degree, even if it is a simple message.

    1. Shana Waring

      I really enjoyed the lunchroom section as well. The author was able to paint such a vibrant image the readers could relate back to on a personal level like you described. I could see as a writer how Lamott’s metaphor could lead to better writing as it is an open scene. There are many ways the story can naturally flow. You nicely summarized Lamott’s “moral point of view” as the art of caring. Nice explanation on the meaning of truth!

    2. Tometria Jackson

      I enjoyed reading your post, Courtney. I totally relate to your feelings about the school cafeteria, and the anxiety of entering the lunchroom! So much angst over the simple procedure of feeding ones self. It’s amazing how these common moments in the human experience can be used to tap into deeper emotions that can then be used for writing.

  5. Draven

    The moral point of view is THE chapter for me. It literally is the embodiment of me, I am just a collection of morals and virtues, which is what enables me to see what everyone means and wants in life, but “The truth is the primary component of writing”. Let me clarify this statement for you. Writing is simply putting OUR truths on the paper. We put what we believe and hold too be true into our works. This is what makes writers unique. Everyone believes in their own truths, and thus, we get many books from many writers. The fact is, truth is relative, why do you think we have a judicial system. Of course it is to pass fair judgment on people, but there are lawyers who know that they can use the truth to bend the reality we call life. Thus is the belief that there is no true truth. We don’t actually know what is right. We don’t know enough of the world that we don’t actually know the truth. Thus “The truth is the primary component of writing” is not a lie it is the truth that hides inside of all of us. This is all my belief, my thoughts on the matter. My morals are how I see the world so it’s obvious why I thought the moral point of view, is the chapter for me. Moralities show in all writing, but so do ideals. Ideals are our strengths, but also they are our weaknesses. Thus this shows in our work. This is a good thing though, as it shows the humanity in our stories. Morals are a strong force in our lives and thus we give the characters we write about morals of their own. This is also the strength in peoples writing, the more human our writing is, the more we can resonate with our readers. This means we can show them our message and they may understand what we are trying to tell them. I understand how writing can be therapeutic, having the ability to put all of your unfiltered thoughts onto a page can be therapeutic, but I’m not sure that it would be the best writing to publish. If you simply want to get your thoughts and feelings on paper and out for people to read, totally do it, but I think therapeutic writing is more for the self than for others. Once while I had some free time on work I found a piece of paper and wrote every moral belief and ideal on it, and to this day, that paper still hangs around my neck, on a necklace I made for myself. Thus I think therapeutic writing is more personal than public. In this book, I think she put her beliefs and ideas on paper, but it’s not raw. The material that she produced in Bird by Bird is heavily edited. It has less emotion, and more continuity. The words flow through the booklet, as if it was written and rewritten. This is good and bad, showing she’s a good writer, but it takes a little more to get to the reader.
    Again, I’m sorry if this was preachy, as usual I write before I think. I guess I put too much emotion into my words. Please comment, I’m here to learn how to write better, so all input is welcome.

    1. Courtney Kisner

      I really enjoyed reading your response. It’s really cool that you can identify with morality driving your life as well as your work as a writer. I liked that you mentioned the relativity of truth. Truth is difficult to discern, it’s not black and white at all and like you said, everyone has their own “truth”. I agree with you that people shouldn’t seek to publish something simply because it was therapy for them to write it and they enjoyed that aspect of it. The fact that you put your moral beliefs in your necklace is so creative and symbolic of how you live your life. Great post!

  6. Delaney E Reece

    Started reading Bird by Bird, I was skeptical of the information inside and what I could learn from it. I find that Lamott and her own understanding and experience with writing and the way she has displayed it to be so truthful and honest to her own experience. The mention and focus on self-doubt and even on mental illness and anxiety is so key to understanding not only her but her work as a whole. By telling her readers and her students these things she gives permission to have those thoughts and feelings even if they are not the same as hers or in the same ferocity, but also gives tools to move forward in the face of doubt.
    In the section which she addresses characters and how you build them her understanding and use of the emotional acre was the first piece of new and brilliantly insightful information. the way she describes building characters and the Way You Are Meant to feel for them is something I know I will hold on to for a very long time. In addition to this, however, she describes what we as readers want the narrator to be reliable and we want to trust their story, and so, therefore, you should write a narrator who is reliable. I think this is a good rule to follow in general, but that there are times when an unreliable narrator, who lies to us and strings the reader along can be far more entertaining and leave a greater impact in the end.
    I really appreciated how to talk to and focused on the importance of looking around and asking people about their own experience. As I stated before most of the advice she gives involves giving one permission to ask questions and to do these things. I think that is more reflective of herself and her own experience then I’m creative writing as a whole but that it is no less important.
    With this in mind, I feel as though she speaks to the experience of writers as a whole group when she describes her own process and feelings of creation. Although this might be true for the writers she knows, and for herself, the way she describes the never-ending anxiety and feelings of hopelessness when it comes to producing work puts a damper on all of the joys that writing could be. At the same time, I understand that this is in part just her way of writing and her way of describing and that she is meant to be taken as funny in these cases. I believe the reason just so difficult to take her cynical ideas with a grain of salt is because she does point out that most of her students disagree, and for me personally I want to agree with her and on the vast majority of the ideas and pieces of her creative process I do. However, when it comes to the discomfort of writing I simply don’t see it. I think in an effort to blur the lines of the box as what a writer is, and saying that they are not perfect and that things do not come out perfect the first time. She paints a larger box was just as harsh lines saying that nothing of writer does can be perfect.

    1. Kait Topkok

      I was also a little suspicious to of if this book would be another how to write book, but the way Anne introduces us to creative writing in the truthful way like you said is very encouraging. After reading the Characters chapter it made me want to immediately start writing about a character with a dialect. I’d also enjoy a narrator that would tell a story, completely changes the truth and leaves everyone shocked at the end. I think when it comes to the discomfort of writing, she’s saying its okay to not be perfect and that by not writing perfectly gives more interesting material to work with. In perfectionism she says when we make mistakes, we find out who we are and what we’re going to write, which made me feel better about how my first (or even second) drafts have so many mistakes.

  7. Kait Topkok

    I really related to Ann’s Introduction Chapter when she says she was a shy little girl growing up. I used to be the super shy girl who always felt like the extra body out of my friends who were outgoing, full of personality, ready for any opportunity. The description of the Prufrock’s crab made me think of being so nervous, having social anxiety about traveling for sports and meeting new people when I was in middle school and high school like I was in my own little shell.
    Ann’s father’s “A Lousy Place To Live”, it reminded me of how the village life is. It can be full of wonder and beauty with all the nature like spotting a falcon near you’re campsite or a curious fox going through the backyard, but it can also be filled with heartbreak like seemingly unbreakable cycles of alcohol abuse.
    When Ann describes how authors “get into people’s minds and skin’s” is exactly how I feel about books, it’s like hopping into a different world where you want to know everything that happened and is going to happen and how the author makes the characters memorable whether they were good or bad.
    In the chapter Getting Started, I agree with her when she says writing down the truth is the component of good writing because writing it all out or letting it all out (a way I like to think about it) is like a breath of fresh air that might hurt at first (due to the truths that might be bad memories in your life) will get rid of any blocks or clear out any clouds to writing to get to know yourself and open yourself up to more broad writing opportunities once you face your truth. I also like how she says learning to be a better writer can help you be a better reader. It’s like she’s saying after you do learn how to be a better writer, it’ll make you read from a writer’s point of view.
 While you’re writing, all of your doubt and life problems are nagging at you, I think Ann is saying you can use that as raw material to drive you to keep writing and ignore those problems. She is also saying in Perfectionism, that perfectionism isn’t always the best tool because it can lead you to bland writing instead of reaching you’re full potential which is making mistakes, which you need mistakes making your writing unique.

    1. Kait Topkok

      I forgot to include this last part- When she says Moral Point of View, I think she means that deep inside yourself you have beliefs of truths that will show through your characters in your writing, if not then you will not see you’re writing thorough to the end and lose interest. I think it’s also what our characters hardships are and how they deal with them is actually our own way of dealing with them.

    2. Brenden Couch

      One chapter that resonated with me was the one on bad First Drafts entitled with perhaps more colorful language. I have experienced this my whole life. Often I end up starting over from scratch and in the end after many exaggerated attempts I must accept the result as it is due. In the age old adage, drafts are always due but never finished. I find I can always keep refining my attempt until at last by the purifying fire of trial and failure, I have polished it into some golden prose through I which I can communicate all my ideas. Though the idea that even 100 drafts will ever be perfect is a fallacy. I have often learned that instead of chucking my many drafts into the fire as it were, it is best to keep all of them and revisit them, using bits and pieces to formulate a more complete work. What is unique about this method is that a nice paper can be written in a day by just gathering scraps and refining it. I also have learned not to dismiss my drafts as “sh****” until I have a chance to come back to it later and reread it with different eyes, it lends a different perspective to the words. I always think that if I can communicate my own ideas back at myself weeks later, my audience might also be able to understand whatever idea or facts that I am attempting to convey.

      Now on to the next point. Truth in story telling? Truth in the sense that you are being honest to and doing justice for the vision of your story that you intend, if that is what is meant then I agree. Though my initial thought was that storytelling in many instances is more of a work of deception with details carefully grafted on as necessary to provide a more complete story-verse, it was only after I had thought that, that I realized what she was meaning. To continue in this response and to say that I have always found writing to be therapeutic and relaxing. In my mind if conveying my ideas isn’t bringing me peace and relaxation then I am going about it the wrong way. That therapeutic quality to writing doesn’t invalidate what is written to me, while overly passionate pieces should be carefully sifted through before sharing, the mere act of getting onto paper or into the word machine relieves your mind of a burden. You can then perhaps pick and choose and indeed share appropriate pieces of that writing to whatever end you see fit.

      Regarding the moral point of view, I have to say it is inherent in our being as humans to not be unbiased. As a quote I here often from a religious text which essentially says,” to be from the world but not of the world”, that is a very difficult thing to do and in writing, most things that are written of should be coming from your mind, so no doubt your views and character voices will have been soaked in an endless retinue of your own thoughts and viewpoints. I don’t believe that it is easy to contradict yourself in your writing, even while providing two opposing viewpoints in a dialogue. In writing characters, I find it useful that if the viewpoints need to differ,to inquire of a friend who doesn’t share my exact view and ask them a few questions to get a feel for their points of view and facts that they might exploit in coming to whichever conclusion they favor so that way I can learn to think as someone else for those parts of my story. Other than that I think it is most impossible to separate yourself from your own literary prose. In an interview, George R.R. Martin actually said something akin to “writing for him was not unlike being psychotic”.

    3. Brenden Couch

      I enjoyed the construction of your piece here and the examples used. Thank you for posting! I totally agree that perfectionism isn’t generally in harmony with any creative endeavor because you become so focused on the flaws and not the expression of emotion that you may be trying to express. Again, thanks for your post I enjoyed reading it.

  8. Tometria Jackson

    I found Anne Lamott’s book full of excellent advice for a beginning writer. I can’t pick out any one part that stands out, because she breaks the whole process down into small, digestible bites. The practical writing advice given by Anne Lamott begins with her title and the little anecdote on the back cover that explains the background of that bit of wisdom. When faced with an enormous task, take it step by step. The common theme I have found as I’ve read through the chapters of this book is that writing is a process that takes discipline and tenacity. The expectation that one can sit down and produce a finished work in one stretch of effort is unrealistic. Writing, like any skill worth acquiring, requires intentionality in every aspect; from the first moment an idea for a story is conceived to the final editing.

    In the first chapter of Bird by Bird, Lamott makes the statement that good writing is about telling the truth. I think that this is so important because truth provides a straight direction for the story to follow. Truth is a common context that everybody can relate to. My favorite stories are those in which I understand what the characters are going through because their experiences ring true with the reality of life. Maybe that’s why I have never really had an interest in the Fantasy genre; the sorcery, magic, and witchcraft are totally unrelatable as are the made up historical events of imaginary lands and people. Truth is compelling and authentic and is the basis for the trust that the reader places in an author.

    I think the therapeutic aspect of writing that Lamott speaks of is in the process of sitting down daily in the quiet space that yo have allotted for work, and then putting your thoughts down on paper. Lamott then goes on to explain the mentally frustrating exercise of staring at that blank screen (or sheet of paper), fidgeting, wracking your brain for a thought, and then writing an awful first draft.

    Apparently, this process is necessary because amid the pages of all of that writing, there may be one perfect thought; a paragraph that shines with promise and provides direction for the way the writing should go. I love Lamott’s candor as she describes how she writes. It’s not the magical workings of a genius mind that is able to perfectly express beautiful thoughts exactly how she wants to say them. Rather, it is the creative mind fighting through all of the mental noise and writing regardless of the lack of inspiration.

    When an author allows their deepest beliefs to direct their writing, there will be a truth that is not only convincing, but also engaging. These closely held beliefs are the North Star; they keep the plot, characters, and setting on the proper course and moving in the right direction. Lamott calls this moral position a passionate caring inside you, providing the motivation to write in the first place. This care permeates an author’s work and creates an emotional tie between the reader and the characters in the book.

    1. Jess Young

      I too found that it was hard to find one area that stood out because so much of her work is intertwined! From everything I’ve read so far, my take-away is writing is not easy, it takes dedication and a stead-fast attitude. Thanks for your response, I agree wholeheartedly!

  9. Angela Rodriguez

    When I started reading “Bird by Bird,” I immediately felt connected to Lamott. The way she depicted her awkward appearance and the humor she developed from being picked on relates to me in so many ways. When I was younger I was the skinny, short, beaver toothed kid who just wanted to belong. When I would get picked on, I learned to mask my pain with jokes.

    A chapter that really interested me was the chapter “Shitty First Drafts.” I am one of those who have always believed that if you were born with a gift of writing well, then you can just write an amazing first draft with ease. I am one of those who struggle with writing the first draft of anything. When I am writing academic papers, I will spend hours typing non-sense. I will then struggle with refining my writing into a second draft. I was surprised that Lamott’s writing process is just as messy as my own. She explained, “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.” I would not consider myself to be good at writing, but my best writings do start with these confusing rough drafts. In this chapter, Lamott also tells us how she makes her shitty first drafts a little less shitty. She likes to sit in a quiet room and to isolate each of the many voices in her head. This really shows how disorganized she feels when starting to write and how she organizes those thoughts into her writing.
    Lamott stresses that telling the truth will create good writing. Prior to reading Bird by Bird, I would not have agreed with this statement. I would have suggested that anyone can fake it until they make it because no one can tell that the writer is lying. Now, I understand what Lamott means and why honesty creates the best writing. An example, is how she explained faking the characters to get to the plot in the “Plot” chapter. In this chapter, Lamott explains that if you were to move your plot forward by faking a character’s feelings (when you feel like they wouldn’t feel this way), your readers would be able to tell that you are being fake with the characters. The reader would then feel resentful towards the writer for being dishonest to move the plot forward. This was a perfect example to me, as I have read stories that made me feel like I was being forced to move forward with the plot.
    Lamott talks about how writing is like therapy to her, I find that most of those who write regularly, use writing as a method of therapy. Lamott uses writing as a therapy by writing about the problems that most affect her. When she writes stories on these events, she will go in depth and will continue to revise that story. This will help her to understand more of the situation she is writing about. Lamott also has a whole chapter on what a moral point of view is. The moral position that she talks about is the passion a character (and likely the writer) has towards a freedom. It is what makes the character develop and grow in their given situation.

  10. Natalee Fleming

    I think that it is very interesting that two different writers have different ideas on why people write. In George Orwell’s Why I Write, he talked about how there are four points reasons why people write. 1) sheer egoism 2) aesthetic enthusiasm 3) historical impulse and 4) political purpose. While in Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird she says people’s write because they want too or feel the need to write. I just find it very interesting that these two great writers say that people have different indentations to write. Orwell said that when he was writing he at first didn’t believe he was writing with a political purpose. That was until he found out that his writing was better when he wrote in that sort of style. Lamott’s tells her students that they need to tell the truth, so starting with your childhood is a great place to start. I feel that some people do write as Orwell says, while other people write like Lamott says. I’d have to say that writing like Lamott talks about, writing by telling the truth, is a better way to write than Orwell talks about. It’s easier to write when you are telling the truth, it becomes more personally, more relatable.

  11. Jess Young

    I’m a little tardy in this response, I apologize…
    Rarely have I found an assigned reading to be as captivating as “Bird By Bird,” but Lamott has a way of describing the world around her to draw the reader in. I found relatable subjects on every page, but the chapter on Set Design as a matter of creating the world for the book really appealed to me as I spent some time in the theater when I was younger. “You want to know its feel, its temperature, its colors. Just as everyone is a walking advertisement for who he or she is, so every room is a little showcase of its occupants’ values and personalities.” I read this passage then looked around my own living room and tried to formulate words to describe the intricacies and “temperature” of the environment. It’s challenging, but thinking of a setting from a theatrical aspect where you can choose to show your audience or reader the details that are important to the story and leaving out things that may be superfluous or detract from the suspense was thought provoking.
    Another section that I enjoyed, was Lamott’s discussion during the introduction about her father and how desperately she had wanted to be “normal” as a child. She subtly laid the foundation in that introduction for what she discusses later in using your childhood as inspiration. She manages to make her writing very relatable to the reader through shared experiences that likely every child felt. Through this, she cleverly uses her own writing as a sample of what she is telling the reader to do in chapter one.
    The chapter on Plot Treatment resonated with me as it discusses heart-breaking disappointment and devastation, but also bravery in the face of adversity and resilience on the part of Lamott. It was an engaging section that was less of a how-to on plot building and editing and more of a warning that what you write won’t be perfect. Lamott describes how something she found to be one of her most excellent works was rejected time and time again by her editor requiring her to rework it and start at square one until she finally hit rock bottom and had “a few hundred drinks and the merest bit of cocaine.” She describes the effort and emotion it took to write something again and again until it made sense to her outside audience, how she locked herself away for months at a time to accomplish this, but in the end it was one of her most successful novels.
    All in all, the first 100 or so pages of “Bird by Bird” has been educational, relatable, and an enjoyable read. I have taken away many ideas for starting my own works and I’m excited to put some of it into play!

  12. Benjamin Hayward

    I am fortuitous enough to have avoided the smallpox in a blanket situation that has turned me into a starving artist. One of my published works has come from a fad and my love of video games. When the Pokémon Go first came out, after 3 weeks I assembled a power level guide and translated it into 10 languages, going all out with this. Well, it didn’t make the money like I thought it would, I think I broke even with the sales. Every few days I get a few sales around the time Niantic has a release. My first published academic work I don’t remember writing the details. When I read it, it has a writing style so different I can’t help but read it and think, “I wrote this? Really?” I did receive an A for the paper from Ms. Hall, who was not known for assigning A’s. Maybe it is because I included Batman in my paper.
    When it comes to writing, I don’t have to set aside a certain time of day to get my brain’s creative juices flowing, for I am always thinking, creating, my brain moves, never stopping, even when I sleep. I think this is because of my multi-tasking abilities. Even with this assignment, I read 20 pages, with 100 words, go do something else. My Space Opera is currently 3 years’ worth of one liners and notes of what I want in my story. Telling the truth does have its place to assign words to a page, however, the lie can be just as valuable.
    Looking back, I see my writing, nearly all of it, as a collection of short assignments. Until this assigned reading, I did not know that is what I was doing, so I have already implemented writing without even trying. It’s fun to learn things like this. It’s all about the bite size pieces, the example in the assignment being a one inch picture frame. Steven King can write the pages about a dinner plate. That’s it, how the light shines on it, how it makes you feel, not just the metaphysical ideas of the plate, but the emotional value it has. Writing in small pieces is how marksmen practice shooting. Even though we see the big picture, we aim small to hit small.
    When writing, I know what my big picture is, I know the canvas, the color placement, the message it should covey. What I don’t know are the details. I know where I am starting, where I want to go, and the middle is the journey of discovery. This is where the draft comes from, and it’s just that. It’s an outline, or maybe even five pages where none of the paragraphs connect. Before you can edit anything, you need to create something to work with, to mold to your vision. It will not be perfect, it does not need to be. What it must be is written. You don’t see it, but I wrote a paragraph before this sentence about sushi, which has nothing to do with this assignment. I went, ate the sushi, deleted the paragraph, and finished the assignment. Sushi has nothing to do with the assignment, but I wrote about it.

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